This idyllic landscape painting fuses Chinese traditional painting with Western abstract style. Using deep washes to indicate the sky-water divide, tiny fishing boats hover, as flocks of birds create delicate white dashes on an eternal blue expanse. On closer inspection, Tan has painted the pair of fishing boats with miniscule details, attesting to the quality of his brushwork. The piece is poetic, visually well balanced, and painted with a fine Chinese aesthetic sense.
Seen from a distance, Tan’s painting could be mistaken for an American colourfield work of the same late 1980s period. The deftly detailed fine elements of this painting – the birds and boats – place it firmly in the realm of Chinese art.
Acquired in 1989 at the Teck Ghee Art Fair, a local community arts event, the painting has been well chosen for the Singtel collection. Other comparable Nanyang-style works in the collection include Singapore pioneer artists Chen Wen Hsi’s Lotus and Carps, and Liu Kang’s Huang Shan (1984).